Peninsula Urban Gardens Society
In the Peninsula Urban Gardens Society (PUGS), gardening is based on organic gardening principles (see the Code of Ethics below). No chemicals or toxic substances may be used on the gardening sites, and any structures built by individual gardeners must have the prior approval of the site coordinator or planning committee. Due to the high demand for garden plots, each group or family may have only one plot. Gardeners agree to cultivate and weed their own plots throughout the gardening season.
The membership fee is $30 per year, payable if a garden plot is available. Fees are due on or before April 1. Since the growing season is so short, the deadline for beginning to garden is June 1. If a garden plot is not in use by June 1, the $30 membership fee will be refunded and the plot will be assigned to a gardener on the waiting list.
E-mail is the primary means of communication of the Peninsula Urban Gardens Society. Members share e-mail addresses, and agree not to reveal these to third parties and to use them only for business of the Peninsula Urban Gardens Society.
Because the Peninsula Urban Gardens Society is run cooperatively, gardeners agree to participate in regular meetings during the gardening season in order to keep everything running smoothly. In addition to taking care of their own garden plots, gardeners also agree to volunteer their time for the benefit of PUGS as a whole, and to carry out work such as mowing the grass, taking care of the berm and herb garden, serving on the Board, building new garden plots, etc. All gardeners agree to be willing to serve on the Board at some point, if their administrative talents are required. Since the land where the gardens are located is public property, it is the responsibility of all gardeners to keep the site looking neat and attractive. Gardeners are to follow Health Canada's Garden Safety guidelines.
At the gardening site level, consensus management is used. This means that decisions are reached by the group as a whole, with issues being discussed until all aspects have been considered and general agreement is reached. In contrast to a majority vote, where only 51% agreement is required, a consensus means that the level of agreement is close to 100%.
The way it works is that a problem is brought forward for discussion and everyone contributes their views and ideas. At first some of the ideas may seem contradictory, but they are discussed from different perspectives to arrive at a more in-depth level of understanding that integrates the seeming contradictions, so that a well thought-out solution is reached. Basically, it is simply a matter of continuing the discussion and considering all aspects, until the group comes up with an idea that is so good that everyone agrees with it.
A simple example is the issue of trellises casting shade on other gardeners' plots. Several ideas were suggested: Building a trellis only across half the plot, building one only at the ends of the plot, or building one only up to a certain height. Then we came up with the idea that the solution is that gardeners must be considerate of their neighbours, and if there is a problem, gardeners should contact one another.
Another example was the planning of the Gorsebrook expansion. Every aspect was discussed and considered in great detail until a well worked out plan evolved that everyone agreed with. Because all contingencies had already been addressed in the planning stage, the implementation of the expansion went extremely smoothly.
Many people have commented on how well-organized Gorsebrook is and on how well the expansion went. In fact, consensus management is our "secret weapon", and is the reason why we have been so successful. From this point of view, Gorsebrook is not only a model garden, it is also a model organization.
In a consensus management environment, of course an atmosphere of mutual trust is essential. The basic idea is that instead of criticizing each other, we look for each other's strong points and talents, and organize things so that we can combine these together so as to reach our common goals.
Gardeners agree to abide by the Peninsula Urban Gardens Society Code of Ethics:
1) We are a non-profit organization to promote sustainable urban agriculture.
2) We use organic gardening practices (no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or treated wood).
3) We do not plant treated or genetically modified seed.
4) We treat each other respectfully and interact with our local community in a respectful manner. (Of course this means that abusive language must not be used.)
5) We will be helpful to fellow gardeners and promote a healthy sense of community.
The Peninsula Urban Gardens Society is not responsible for any loss of property, personal injury or damage arising from the use of the community garden. In keeping with Halifax Regional Municipality regulations, gardeners participate at their own risk, and are required to sign a Waiver of Liability.
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